The British Lion

Tony Schu­mach­er
  • Review
By – December 18, 2015

The British Lion is the sequel to Tony Schu­macher’s first nov­el, an alter­nate his­to­ry in which the Nazis actu­al­ly win World War II, occu­py Eng­land, and are sup­port­ed by the Unit­ed States government.

John Ros­sett, hero of The Dark­est Hour, returns to help his Nazi boss save his daugh­ter, who has been kid­napped by Amer­i­can spies. He must find Ruth Hartz, a Jew­ish sci­en­tist impris­oned by the Ger­mans and forced to work on devel­op­ing an atom bomb, so she can be swapped for the daugh­ter. Ros­sett bat­tles not only the Nazi occu­piers, but also the British Resis­tance from the crim­i­nal under­world, as well as some rogue Amer­i­can spies led by Allen Dulles, work­ing covert­ly to defeat Hitler.

Besides the real-life fig­ure of Dulles, Schu­mach­er also includes Joe Kennedy as ambas­sador to the Unit­ed King­dom and Charles Lind­bergh as pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States. Both men desire to main­tain a good rela­tion­ship with Hitler as a means of start­ing an inter­na­tion­al trade agree­ment. Where many his­tor­i­cal books ignore Kennedy’s and Lindbergh’s anti-Semi­tism, Schu­mach­er uses it to enhance the plot, expos­ing the true facts of Lindbergh’s views regard­ing the Jews — con­sid­er­ing them sin­is­ter, cor­rupt, and com­mit­ted to destroy­ing Chris­t­ian moral­i­ty — and Kennedy’s pos­i­tive per­spec­tive on appease­ment with Hitler, espe­cial­ly as it relat­ed to the eco­nom­ic ties between the two sides.

But the most pow­er­ful part of the nov­el is its theme, what will peo­ple moral­ly sac­ri­fice to pay the price for their life? This is brought home by the quote, We’re part of a machine, John…whatever I think about the machine, how I feel about what it does, it doesn’t mat­ter. If I don’t do what I’m sup­posed to do…I die.” The author also takes the theme one step fur­ther by hav­ing read­ers decide if the per­son with the clip­board is as respon­si­ble or more respon­si­ble for the Jew­ish deaths than the ones who actu­al­ly did the killings. 

Through his bril­liant char­ac­ter devel­op­ment, Schu­mach­er gar­ners sym­pa­thy not only for Ruth, the Jew­ish sci­en­tist, but for her Nazi-col­lab­o­ra­tor res­cuer, John Ros­sett. Ruth is the only one in the sto­ry with intact moral integri­ty, will­ing to kill her­self to make sure the Nazis nev­er get the bomb. Ros­sett comes across as some­one want­i­ng to make amends, to become a bet­ter per­son, since his orig­i­nal job was to dis­place Jews. Although it may be impos­si­ble to grant this com­plex and flawed char­ac­ter a full par­don, read­ers will find them­selves root­ing for him as he tries to over­come his sins by fight­ing sub­ver­sive­ly against the Nazi regime.

The British Lion reminds read­ers in many dif­fer­ent ways about man’s inhu­man­i­ty to fel­low man. Schu­mach­er has clear­ly done his his­tor­i­cal research about Nazis, their sym­pa­thiz­ers, and the Holo­caust; he mix­es those facts into a riv­et­ing sto­ry, cre­at­ing an alter­nate his­to­ry that makes his read­ers trem­ble with the real­is­tic possibilities.

Relat­ed Content:

Elise Coop­er lives in Los Ange­les and has writ­ten numer­ous nation­al secu­ri­ty arti­cles sup­port­ing Israel. She writes book reviews and Q and A’s for many dif­fer­ent out­lets includ­ing the Mil­i­tary Press. She has had the plea­sure to inter­view best­selling authors from many dif­fer­ent genres.

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